This ought to be the first rule of “Biblical Archaeology” (via Bad Archaeology)

An article on Bad Archaeology makes some good points about some recent archaeological claims:

“Biblical archaeology” is in “scare quotes” because it’s a highly problematical concept, but more of that later. What I want to address first is what ought to be a first principle for anyone reading about claims for discoveries that are supposedly to the Bible (Hebrew or Christian) or any religious text, for that matter. It’s this:

If a discovery confirms your pre-held religious beliefs, then it’s wishful thinking at best and even more likely to be a fraud.

As a principle, I think it’s a good one. But it’s one I have rarely, if ever, encountered in so-called “Biblical Archaeology”, which is a sub-discipline that is characterised by a distinct lack of skeptical thinking. Why is that?

Let’s answer that by looking at some recent claims: the “Jesus family tomb”, the “lead codices” from Jordan and the interminable searches for “Noah’s Ark”.

Read detailed discussion of Jacobovici’s “Jesus Tomb,” Elkington’s “Lead Codices,” hunts for Noah’s Ark, and other fake archaeological claims here.

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fake lead jordan codices update

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Thomas Verenna has an excellent update addressing the fake “Jordan Codices” on the Bible and Interpretation website. The evidence continues to pile up against the “owner” of the fake “artifacts.”

The evidence demonstrates that the otherwise nonsensical text of the codices is actually copied from an assortment of real objects dating to the Second Temple period. In fact, the team of scholars and bloggers that have been investigating the fake codices have identified a stamp that was apparently used to impress lines of text over and over again to give the appearance of long paragraphs of text. Unfortunately, the result of the text is nonsense.

This is once again an excellent example of the crowd sourcing power of scholars and astute graduate students on the internet, using their skills to debunk pseudoscientific claims and forgeries directly to the public.

So what should we expect from here? Should we expect David (or is it Paul) Elkington to double down and claim that they are, in fact, legitimate? Will he attempt to save face and claim that the Jordanian government has “reclaimed” the documents before he has had a chance to prove their authenticity? (Although I must warn Mr. Elkington against this tactic; if the Jordanians spend even an ounce of effort recovering these objects from Mr. Elkington, and they are indeed fake, he may face a problem or two with the Jordanians.) Will Mr. Elkington (and/or his duped followers) attempt to attack the scholars who proved his claims to be false and his “artifacts” to be fakes?

Only time will tell. But, apparent revelations about the man at the center of the fake codices are not helping his case.

i just threw up in my mouth: on david elkington and the lead codices

David Elkington

Jennifer and David Elkington.

this just made me throw up in my mouth. seriously, i have to go brush my teeth now.

according to an article entitled “revelations of our own indiana jones” in the this is gloucestershire website:

THE Five Valleys’ real-life Indiana Jones has made a startling discovery which could unlock the earliest secrets of Christianity.

Historian David Elkington spent two years trying to preserve the 2,000-year-old metal books and dodging death threats in the Holy Land in an adventure to rival the fictional Raiders of the Lost Arc movie hero.

really? indiana jones? and i love how the author misspelled “ark.” really? indiana jones lost his arc welder? perhaps it should be “nikola tesla and the lost arc.” i don’t know who makes england prouder, this article’s author or elkington?

“We were making our way through the valley when we heard the sound of fire,” said David. The scrub next to their 4X4 had been set alight.

He added: “It was extremely fierce. Someone was angry that we’d got too close to the site.”

yes, because the best way to scare someone away from your own land/cave is to set fire to your own property. exactly.

David is hopeful that the books will soon be in the care of the Jordanian government, allowing further study.

The couple will publish their account of the battle to unlock the codices’ secrets in the book The Divine Revelation.

of course you are.

the lead codices debacle has been a publicity stunt from the outset. good grief people!

the least the gloucestershire paper could have done is wait until after the rapture this saturday….

excellent article on the portrayal of archaeological objects in the media by thomas verenna

Thomas S. Verenna has written an excellent article at Bible and Interpretation entitled, “Artifacts and the Media.”

The article discusses the media’s response to the recent fake lead codices that purported to be possibly the ‘earliest Christian texts’ and ‘the face of Jesus,’ as well as scholar-bloggers’ role in exposing those behind the sensational campaign.

Verenna states:

More scandalous is the complete lack of journalistic integrity, honest research, and thorough fact-checking.  These codices might never have been heard of if the authors of the reports for BBC and Fox News (among others) had just checked with the academic community before publishing the “find”.  At the very least, the journalists might have used less authoritative language, expressed more caution, and exposed the controversy rather than simply stating, as if doing so made it fact, that these codices were “the earliest Christian texts” and that they held “early images of Jesus.”

Give it a read.

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